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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  July 12, 2009 7:00am-7:30am EDT

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>> bonnie: this week on "to the contrary": up first, should health care reform cover reproductive services -- if so, that overturns a 32-year ban. then, one democrat and one republican woman led the news this week. behind the headlines, making the country cleaner and greener for future generations. [ ♪music ] >> bonnie: hello, i'm bonnie erbé. welcome to "to the contrary," a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, abortion and health care reform. this week the white house and congress continued to negotiate health care reform proposals,
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including whether reproductive health services for women should be funded. some republicans and 19 conservative house democrats are pushing to exclude abortion services. they say taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for abortions. federal law has banned funds for abortions since passage of the famous hyde amendment in 1976. choice advocates say women's basic health care includes all forms of reproductive health services -- including abortion. a new poll shows most americans say reproductive health services including abortion and contraception should be provided. >> our polling that we did recently show that about 2 to 1, people think basic reproductive health services for women should be included in a benefits package. and therefore, it's good for members to support what the public wants. most of us pay for our own
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private insurance now, and we will in the future also. most of us have abortion coverage in our private health plans, and i do believe that is something women would not want taken away in the future. >> bonnie: so congresswoman, should health care reform include coverage of abortions for poor women? >> bonnie, don't even try assuring health care for all americans by taking away a vital service many already have! >> look, i don't think americans should be forced to pay for anything that violates their personal or religious beliefs. and this would not be adding choice to health care. this would be saying we're now going to have taxpayer fundings of abortions in this country. >> i think they should only include that if they don't want any meaningful health care to pass. they don't have the votes. why, when they're struggling to pass what i consider a extremely important reform would they want
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to interject the most hot button issue there is in a way that would doom the entire effort? >> they should not. mandates make costs rise. and if we're going to have mandates, why not have a mandate that you know, covers the majority of women? let's go for estrogen replacement therapy as a mandate for health care coverage. >> cancer coverage. >> bonnie: the legal possibilities, but also, you said you didn't want to pay for something that violated your religious and moral beliefs. >> uh-huh. >> bonnie: couldn't you say the same thing that progressives who realize way ahead of the curve that abstinence only, billions of dollars of funding went to that, was ineffective and it violated their beliefs, too, isn't that -- my point is, isn't there that kind of funding all of the time in the federal government, that violates everybody's -- you know, you're going to find somebody --
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>> the federal government is doing so much of what it shouldn't be doing every day. that's why we have political debates, i would take issue with the polling answers, you can get anything you want depending on the question you ask. in the recent poll by gallup, more and more americans generally over 50% are opposed to abortions. i would hasten to say most people don't want them. they're talking about whether or not the federal government is going to pay for it. as kay just pointed out when we're trying to get health care costs under control, all you have to look is individual states, one state that has 1800 mandates on their health insurance and another state that mass a lot fewer, it costs a lot more for health care in massachusetts as it does in texas.
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>> wait a minute. we're talking about an unmandate. that is to say, nobody is mandating anything. you have a choice of a policy, which offers abortion, and one that does not. and what makes this very hard is, this isn't just dealing with poor people. because the public plan is going to go way up the scale to people who are losing health care but otherwise -- >> bonnie: with no means testing. >> well, there will be means testing but even with means testing, they're talking about upward of 70, $80,000 per individual, and much more than that for couples and families. so you're well into the middle class. moreover some of these people have had insurance. most of them have had some insurance. they can't afford it. their employers have dropped it, it cost too much so they've got to get into the public plan and you're going to say to millions of americans, you used to have
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abortion coverage but you don't have them anymore because the federal government says so? i agree with you, that it -- i agree with you. try passing that one! you're a magician if you can pass that one! >> i think it's a little more complicated than that. and i think it's complicated because, there are publicly funded health care plans right now that do not cover abortion services. and so, if we're talking about a federal -- >> bonnie: but there are hospitals glshes and there are hospitals that don't also. >> bonnie: the conflict hospital -- the catholic hospitals, none of them do. >> my point is in a new system where we have a public plan competing against a private plan, that's one set of circumstances. however, the concern is since the federal government sets the rules is the federal government going to say a basic right for every plan is then, therefore, that all plans must provide abortion?
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>> that's a red herring. the public plan would have several different kinds of service just like the federal plan does. just like thrir there's several different types of policies. you would have some with abortion and some without abortion. [simultaneous speech] >> bonnie: wait a minute. that's a hot button issue. everybody has ideas how they want their tax dollars spent. >> and this would be a big change, right? >> bonnie: but you say states would lose money by paying for this. what about the state of california that had to pay for all the emergency care for those octuplets? do you think if she hadn't had herself fertilized, that that wouldn't have saved the state money -- more money than on emergency care?
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>> you bring up another issue very well, talking about the octuplets. reproductive rights, quote unquote, covers a lot of stuff. ivf, the treatment in california with the octuplets, a lot of different thing. everybody will demand their version covered. we're looking at choices here. >> bonnie: i want to let melinda into this conversation. >> well for starters i feel the way you do about the government supporting and funding abortion. but even if i didn't, i really care about health care reform. i want it to pass. and it will not if we inject this into it. i mean that's the bottom line. >> and bonnie, i was just going to make the point. california has one of the richest benefits packages associated with its health care. so if you want to look at what's driving cost in california, it wasn't the octuplets, it was the mandates that are in month most health -- most health packages.
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>> bonnie: what's driving emergency rooms 84 of them to close in california and similar problems in texas and florida, is immigration. >> using the word mandates, the federal government is not going to say the only way to get this public plan is to have abortion in it. i mean you're setting up some straw men here just he like the republicans say by use of the public plan. they're trying to make that look like socialized medicine, whereas they're trying to create diversity like you have in the social sector. >> bonnie: we have to get off this topic. but since there will be a variety of plans, not all of them so it won't have the widespread financial impact you're talking about. from health care reform to politics aches leadin apps lead.
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-- politics' leading ladies. this week, two women's names dominated the political headlines: sonia sotomayor and sarah palin. but they are drawing attention for very different reasons as their careers seem to be moving in opposite directions. with her senate confirmation hearings beginning this coming week, judge sotomayor is expected to clinch the nomination and become the third female supreme court justice -- the second sitting right now. many congressional republicans have given up on trying to target sotomayor because they are more worried about the future of their party. this, after a month-long series of gop scandals and the surprise resignation of sarah palin as alaska's governor. seen as a rising gop star, palin won't say whether stepping down means she's preparing for a presidential run in 2012, or simply retreating from the national spotlight. a new u.s.a. today/gallup poll finds the majority of republicans are banking on the former. two-thirds of those surveyed wants palin to be a "major national political figure" in the future. >> bonnie: so let's start with sarah palin, the beginning or the end of her run for president. >> i don't know the answer to that question. you know, look.
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i don't know sarah palin personally and i don't know why she stepped down. there was a lot of pressure put on her family. i don't think it was helpful that she stepped away from a job that she had committed to doing. and the idea that i'm now a lame duck, you don't have to annoyance yet that you weren't going to run again. so that's my political strategy side of it. having not known all of the background here, maybe she was making the best decision for her family. >> first i was skeptical. congress is out of session. and i must say, i don't think the media did their homework here. when i went back to washington and began to read closely about the way people have gone at her in the state, the number of complaints against her, some people really out to get her in her own state and how her reputation was being ruined -- >> bonnie: but that doesn't go away. the investigation continues. >> well, apparently this bad relationship with -- now perhaps she made her own bed and should
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lie in it. but if you look at it from her point of view, what is to gain by remaining there, being pilloried every day from your own legislature, from multiple complaints all of which she has won -- >> bonnie: but let me -- >> -- instead of going out making money, speaking to loving crowds. >> bonnie: the gain is thisment f she does run-d this: if she does run in 2012, romney can stand in front of her and say, "i didn't quit." huckabee can sit in front of her and say, "i didn't quit. ". >> there are many hats you can wear. maybe it was a good decision for a mom. awful decision as a politician
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ooptsz. >> her supporters don't care. i am a supporter. but a lot of them don't. i talk to her more than you do. >> let her speak. >> my family are all palin republicans. they love this woman and there is nothing she could do that would shake her faith in her and in fact the more she gets out there and says, i've been beaten up by the mean press, the better she does. the snarkier the press gets, the more it helps her. i don't think it hurts her case by looking like a quitter as you say and having her tenure as governor of the state. i'm not positive it hurts her. if there's -- there's less attention to the scandals you're talking about. >> bonnie: we don't have much time. i want to get on to sotomayor. is her approval a forgone conclusion virtually?
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>> it might be. a fight is also a forgone conclusion. >> bonnie: why bother? when you look at the polls, she has about if i%. >> well the new haven case coming out didn't help. >> bonnie: right, but for the longest time what the polls were shoig was, attack a woman, attack an hispanic, let's get away from the women's vote, but the hispanics, which the republicans were making gains with and lost horribly by obama, don't they turn off that segment by attacking her? >> the process is that she does have to face tough questioning. and because someone questions her positions or asks her why she wrote something or what she meant by that or takes issue with that, isn't an attack. it's called american governance. that's the way it works. >> and they have to go at her. the real question, and i agree
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with her, is how they go at her. you better watch out here, because this is a woman who has a defense and knows how to defend herself and she is one of a kind pf she is the thurgood marshall of her time. >> just repeating her past statements in some cases can get the answers they are looking for. >> bonnie: we shall see. behind the headlines environmental protection agency administrator lisa jackson. a scientist and engineer by training, jackson is the first african american to hold the cabinet-level position. charged with protecting the health and natural environment of millions of americans, she is confronting some of the country's biggest ecological ills to date. i sat down with administrator jackson to find out what her top priorities are at the epa. >> lisa jackson: it's clean air and clean water, the fact that it's the year 2009 and in many areas of this country, we're starting to feel real stress about water supply. first off, who gets it?
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it's a scare resource. >> bonnie: well, that's been the history of the west, right? fights over water? >> lisa jackson: yeah, and now we're starting to see it here. you know, we saw the drought in the southeast last year, so it's very fresh in people's minds ... a problem that many of us thought over the years, "oh, well, maybe we're a bit immune to it, since we don't have deserts," and now we're starting to see that. that's the first manifestation of a future that we have to start to guard against. that being said, the solution is actually not unlike energy. we waste a lot of water in this country. it's not just because we, you know, leave the faucet on when we brush our teeth, which hopefully we're not doing, but because much of our water infrastructure is quite old. and so the process of getting a glass of water from, you know, a reservoir to your home may waste another glass and a half or may waste a half a glass. that's water that we have to really consider not wasting anymore. >> bonnie: you were up before
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a senate committee, and senator barrasso of wyoming was giving you a pretty hard time on that. i also went on the internet and saw that he had gone on a conservative host's show and agreed with the guy that there's no such thing as global warming. how do you even talk to people whose views are so disparate from yours? how do you negotiate with somebody with those views? >> lisa jackson: well, first, you never stop talking to them, because i think part of what we have to be able to do for the american people as a whole is answer those kinds of critiques. it would be an understatement to say that senator barrasso and i have a pretty strong disagreement, and not only does he disagree with me, but with the vast majority of scientists. there's quite a consensus out there that first, the climate is changing, and that it's changing in large part because of things man has done. that's all this whole debate is about. and i usually say to the average american, when i go out to speak, listen, don't take my word for it. look, do you feel as though the climate is changing?
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not just in that it's hot. let's talk about how climate changes. it changes in water. do you feel like you have less water, or too much water? do you feel as though the highs are getting higher and the lows are getting lower? that kind of anecdotal evidence is usually the first place where it catches a bit of a spark. and then i refer them to scientific studies that show that this isn't something that's just happening because we're on a cycle. but if you look at the science of it, the amount of co2 we're putting in the atmosphere is staying there, and it stays there for decades. >> bonnie: president obama is the most pro-environment president we've had in a long time, possibly the most pro-environment. but there are plenty of people in this country who are more concerned about businesses and bulge us out of the recession than they are about lowering carbon emissions or restricting factories so that they don't spew a lot of pollution into the air. is there common ground on this issue? >> lisa jackson: i do believe there is. the president has said over and
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over that the clean energy agenda he's trying to push, and that's on purpose. we talk about energy and we talk about renewables. we talk about energy efficiency. we talk about the fact that when you get more renewable power, when you cut down on the amount of foreign oil you need, when you hire more people to do weatherization and make our homes more energy efficient, all those things lead us to a cleaner air future. so they deal with things like climate change, and they deal with those other nasty pollutants i described before. and the president has made it clear, you don't have to choose one or the other. you don't have to decide whether you want clean air at the expense of having a job or economic opportunity. in fact, he sees the two as very much linked. >> bonnie: and what percentage of those people are willing to pay more in taxes or have their small businesses pay more in taxes if cap in trade becomes a reality? >> lisa jackson: i think if you ask them that question, especially right now, the vast majority of people will say, hey, there is no more give in the system.
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but if you say to them something different, which the president has said, if you say, listen, we're losing manufacturing jobs overseas, but you cannot ship overseas weatherization jobs. those are jobs that have to be done here, by trained, skilled technicians in this country. all of that kind of work is work that the president is talking about doing here, so that we can keep a manufacturing base, so we can actually help people move out of this recession. >> bonnie: kay james, i asked her a lot about water and it just so happened this week, i believe it was, interior secretary ken salazar had to release 98% of all federal water funds to california alone because the drought is so bad there, because the state has been relying on melting snow mass for a large part of its water needs and there's no more snow to melt. so what do you -- how do you any she should handle that?
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>> we need clean water and we need it -- you know, it's interesting. people are focusing on third world nations. without understanding that we have problems here in our own country about water delivery. i'll say a couple of things, one, she's a perfect epa director. she's very articulate and bright. 2, i think conservatives have not done a great job of embracing the environment, and speaking out about what we believe, which is that the environment should be protected and that we have a responsibility to take care of mother earth. i think we need to get that out on the table. but i would say on cap in trade, is it going -- you know, we -- that's her main thing on her plate right now, and getting that passed for the president. the administration believes that there's a strong, strong need for this piece of legislation, and that it's going to have a
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profound economic, positive impact. nothing could be further from the truth. my goodness, we're going to invest all th of this time and energy. we're not going to have that much impact on the overall climate, it's going to cost a lot of money and lose a lot of jobs. >> every study that i've seen shows that there's a lot of hope in green jobs, and that it's not a choice that we always thought it was between business and the environment. and that as you say, everybody should be for conservation. everybody should be for economic development, for new jobs, conservatives no less than liberals, energy is such a huge issue. >> absolutely. >> but the climate bill we passed was anything but what we wanted. >> bonnie: what about president obama this week in italy and the global climate change awards, treaty that he's working towards?
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>> we had done something historic, break through -- congressional break throughs are very incremental. he went there at least armed with soming from the house. >> bonnie: which was what? >> house passage of the first climate change bill in the united states. if we had not done cap in trade, he would have had to shut his mouth throughout the entire g-8 section. the problem is i don't know if there is any absence to china and india to the notion that what, you're the ones that did it? you want us on board? you first, and then maybe us. >> that may be one of the things, talking about the jobs we will be creating here. familiaritfamiliaritycreating ft or two in our climate, and if that is india and china, these countries industrializing and creating a lot more increasing of the years greenhouse pollutants than we're doing,
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they're not playing along, because that would mean giving up jobs, they're going to take a lot of the manufacturing jobs in this country. wee going to be losing jobs, transporting them overseas. there are lots of studies from the heritage foundation, the cbo, that says what is this going to cost the average american feaments. >> bonnie: but it will cost them a whole lot lest than if we run out of water. that's it for this edition of "to the contrary." next week, rape as a tool of war in the congo. please join us on the web for "to the contrary extra." whether your views are in agreement or "to the contrary," please join us next time. caption technologies, inc .
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